Women's Basketball: Three transfers join UCI

Ashley Merrill, Mackenzie Piper and Olivia Montgomery have signed scholarship agreements with the UC Irvine women's basketball program, head coach Doug Oliver recently announced.

Merrill, a 6-1 guard, transfers to UCI from the University of Arizona. She played in 17 games for the Wildcats, averaging 4.1 points and 2.9 rebounds per game. She had a season-best 13 points in 28 minutes against Iona. Merrill was prepped at Corona Centennial High, where she was a McDonald's All-American nominee. Merrill also led her team to the best record in school history at 23-6 as senior. Merrill earned All-CIF Academic honors all four years and averaged 11.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.7 steals per game her senior year.

"We are excited to have Ashley join our program, "Oliver said in a release. "She is a versatile scorer who is a threat from multiple positions. Her length and size will cause a matchup problem for opponents within the Big West Conference."

Piper, a 6-0 forward, joins the squad from the University of Illinois. Piper played in 23 games as a freshman; she tallied a career-high 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds in her collegiate debut against Evansville. Piper helped Iowa City West High School to a Class 4A state championship in 2011-2012 when she averaged 13.3 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, along with 49% from the field. The two-time all-state selection was a McDonald's All-American nominee as a senior.

"Piper is a tenacious 3-4 combo player who is capable of playing out to the three-point line. She will bring a tremendous work ethic that will be contagious to our program," Oliver continued.

Montgomery, a 6-0 forward, comes to the Anteaters from Citrus College where she was a 2014 All-Western State Conference South Division first-team selection. In 2013-14, she averaged 14.7 points, while grabbing 6.4 rebounds. Montgomery scored a career-high 28 and grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds against Bakersfield last season. As a freshman, she played in 16 games, averaging 10.8 points and 5.4 rebounds in just over 25 minutes a game. Montgomery was prepped at Long Beach Poly High, where she earned All-Moore League honors and was a member of the Jackrabbits' 2009 and 2010 state championship teams.

"Montgomery is physical power forward who can score with her back to the basket," Oliver said. "She will be a competitor at the power forward position and be an excellent rebounder and defender."

The trio joins Teirra Hicks, a 5-10 guard from Las Vegas and Paulina Santana, a 5-9 guard from San Dimas who signed in November and as well as Shereen Sutherland, a 6-0 forward, who transferred from Arizona in February.

— From staff reports

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